In most senses, I’ve avoided the Quarter-Life Crisis. As I approached 25 I was concerned, as I was about to be laid off, had not yet applied to grad school, and was dating (mostly unsuccessfully) just about everything that moved. Stability seemed far off. But just over halfway to my 26th birthday, everything is different. I have a career and long-term plan that excite me, a bunch of fun hobbies (including knitting; it doesn’t seem to get much more stable than knitting) and I’m looking forward to fantastic summer full of new and exciting experiences with a great guy. But I’m having a Quarter-Life Crisis I didn’t expect: it’s about friendship.
I’ve always been more comfortable one-on-one and with small groups than a whole bunch of people. I’m also not the best at keeping in touch. So when I left Philadelphia to settle in DC for college and beyond, I let most of my high school friendships lapse. I made a bunch of friends in college; they’re wonderful people, and I’ve been happy with them.
Since I’ve stayed in DC, I expected my friendships to remain relatively stable. But many friends have moved across the country. Some stay here but drift away. Others move on to stable long-term relationships and the domesticity that accompanies them. While I can’t imagine life without my closest, I need to refresh my social circle. When I realized this, I attended happy hours, met fellow bloggers and tweeps, and tried to be as social as possible. I thought of it like dating, and I’ve had enough practice to be pretty good at dating.
It turns out making friends is not the same as dating. Most obviously, you don’t flirt with potential friends. But the biggest difference is how much more rejection hurts. In my years of dating around I learned the lesson that not being someone’s The One doesn’t make me less than awesome. I’ve rejected great guys because they just weren’t quite right for me. I’ve also been on dates I couldn’t wait to get away from that were followed up by a note from the guy saying, “I had a great time! Let’s do it again,” so I know how much two people’s perception of the same date can differ. I’ve managed to stay pretty un-bitter through the long slog that is the single life in DC.
Making friends is so much harder. You meet someone, you like them, you think they liked you…and they turn down your invitations and don’t include you in the next happy hour. Girls have come so much closer to breaking me over the years than guys ever have. I think the rejection stings more because the stakes are lower: you only have one soul mate (in the eternal words of Ted Mosby, “It’s like not winning the lottery!”), but it doesn’t cost anything to add someone else to your group.
But I’ve met great people through social networking, and made a few good friends over the last few months, all organically. I know it’s extra important to hold onto my self-confidence, and just be patient. I’ll keep meeting great people, and some of them will get me and like me too. A theme I’ve noticed in this Quarter-Life Crisis series is that resolving the crisis seems to depend on being comfortable with one’s self. So I’m going to relax, keep putting myself out there, and let friendship happen on its own.
Kate is a 25 year old research analyst who will be starting her master’s in Geography in the fall. She loves dance, yoga, trashy fantasy novels, basking in the sunshine on the Alexandria waterfront, knitting, and food. Follower her on Twitter: @kateschindler
If you are interested in contributing to the Quarterlife Crisis series feel free to contact me.